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Early aggressive intravenous hydration is recommended for acute pancreatitis treatment although randomized trials have not documented benefit. We performed a randomized trial of aggressive vs. standard hydration in the initial management of mild acute pancreatitis.Sixty patients with acute pancreatitis without systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) or organ failure were randomized within 4 h of diagnosis to aggressive (20 ml/kg bolus followed by 3 ml/kg/h) vs. standard (10 ml/kg bolus followed by 1.5 mg/kg/h) hydration with Lactated Ringer’s solution. Patients were assessed at 12-h intervals. At each interval, in both groups, if hematocrit, blood urea nitrogen (BUN), or creatinine was increased, a bolus of 20 ml/kg followed by 3 ml/kg/h was given; if labs were decreased and epigastric pain was decreased (measured on 0–10 visual analog scale), hydration was then given at 1.5 ml/kg/h and clear liquid diet was started. The primary endpoint, clinical improvement within 36 h, was defined as the combination of decreased hematocrit, BUN, and creatinine; improved pain; and tolerance of oral diet.The mean age of the patients was 45 years and only 14 (23%) had comorbidities. A higher proportion of patients treated with aggressive vs. standard hydration showed clinical improvement at 36 h: 70 vs. 42% (P=0.03). The rate of clinical improvement was greater with aggressive vs. standard hydration by Cox regression analysis: adjusted hazard ratio=2.32, 95% confidence interval 1.21–4.45. Persistent SIRS occurred less commonly with aggressive hydration (7.4 vs. 21.1%; adjusted odds ratio (OR)=0.12, 0.02–0.94) as did hemoconcentration (11.1 vs. 36.4%, adjusted OR=0.08, 0.01–0.49). No patients developed signs of volume overload.Early aggressive intravenous hydration with Lactated Ringer’s solution hastens clinical improvement in patients with mild acute pancreatitis.